I got home from the doctor yesterday with Luke and was greeted at the front door by my sweet girl. She was busy playing with her grandparents but she dropped everything to hear everything. She had a litany of questions waiting for me as I stepped through the front door, Luke curled onto my shoulder.
“What did the doctor do? Did he put a stick down his throat? Did he take a blood pleasure? Did he listen to his cough? Did he take his temperature in his ear? What was his temperature? Did Luke cry? Did he get a shot? Did he get a finger prick? Did he get a sticker? Did you get ME a sticker? Does he have to take medicine? Can I taste his medicine?”
Unfortunately for her, I was totally shaken by the doctor’s visit. Having expected a simple chest, throat and ear check, I was smacked with having to pin my little guy down to the table as the doctor took three vials of blood and then watching as they strapped a baggy over his little Pee Pee in the hopes of gathering some urine to test for an infection.
Apparently, a high fever with NO other symptoms is NOT a good thing.
Luke cried until he was gasping for air. Grabbing for me. Pleading with me with his big eyes for my arms to sweep him up from the table. I caressed his belly. Rubbed his head. Assured him it was almost over. But I was breaking inside.
Hannah could see I was hurting. She took my hand and led me into the family room and said, “Mommy, tell me, what happened?”
And although I was stressed out, not in the mood to talk, I didn’t hesitate. I told her. I told her that Luke screamed for 20 minutes as they wrapped a tourniquet around his tiny arm, stuck a needle in and drew blood. That he had a bag attached to his “pee pee” so that we could collect some pee for the doctor to look at. That I was sad. That I had a hard time seeing my children hurt.
Some think I’m too honest with her. That she doesn’t need to know all of my thoughts. That she’s too young to comprehend adult emotions. That I might make her fearful of things she shouldn’t be worrying about. But I choose to tell her. Right or wrong, it’s my choice.
I also tell her that if she doesn’t hold my hand in the parking lot, she could get hit by a car and get killed.
I tell her that there are bad people who steal things. Who take kids.
I let her watch Annie and explained what orphans are.
I tell her that it’s not just old people who die.
I tell her that I’ve had friends even as a “big person” who aren’t nice to me. Who have hurt my feelings. Some of my friends aren’t actually my friends anymore.
I have told her that spiders creep me out. I don’t like raw cauliflower. I used to be afraid of going blind.
All of these things I’ve told her. Things that may instill fears or dislikes in her but things that let her KNOW me. Feel comfortable with me. Know that I’m a person who has been hurt, has fears and emotions. That there are scary things in the world. That she SHOULD be scared sometimes. That there are things I’M scared of too.
Right or wrong. This is something I’ve chosen to do. And yes, now she is afraid of bees. Jumps at lightning. Asks millions of questions about sickness and dying. Wonders if a child she doesn’t see with parents is an orphan. But I’m ok with that. Because I can be there for her to calm her fears, to try to answer her questions. But I may not be able to be there for her when she’s thirteen and is hit with reality. Reality that I never clued her into. It’s a fine line, I know. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve crossed it but usually, I trust my instincts.
On the other hand, there are some areas I’ve more carefully tippy toed around. I am NOT the mom who uses all of the anatomically correct terms for body parts. Hannah still has a Pee Pee that the peepee comes out of. Her brother also has a Pee Pee of a different shape. Mommy has boobies. A baby grows in a mommy’s Belly (not her uterus as someone I know told her three year old). Babies are removed from their mommy’s bellies, they do not come out of their Pee Pee (which in this mama’s case, is true). I also know of someone who told her 5 year old how babies are made. Not me. I told Hannah that I have NO IDEA how the baby starts growing in there… it just starts as a tiny seed sometime in your 20’s or 30’s and your doctor tells you when it happens. And then I change the subject. Fast.
It’s getting harder. Answering the questions. Helping her with her curiosities. I find myself struggling at times. Why we chose our house when the one next door is so much bigger. Why some people have beach houses and we don’t. Why some people are pudgy and others are so skinny (“People come in all shapes and sizes” doesn’t seem to cut it with her). How come some kids look like their daddy when the mommy is the one with the baby in her belly? Why do all of her favorite cartoons have Christmas specials but not Chanukah specials? Why was Boxing even invented if hitting is so awful? Why do I only drive with one hand sometimes if I KNOW it’s safer with two?
My attempts to blow off or not know the answers doesn’t work with this girl. “But you still haven’t told me WHY mommy!” or “But why do you THINK mommy?” is usually what comes back at me. Which is why so often, I go with the truth. Hannah still gives me a hard time about lying when she was two about the stork delivering the baby to a mommy’s doorstep. I realized when she was four years old and talking about the stork at preschool that this story was leaking out so I fessed up and told her the “seed” story. I’m sure I’ll be fessing up on that one soon too…
I hope I haven’t caused any true damage to Hannah. I hope she appreciates the honesty where I use it. And that she won’t hold my little fibs against me for too long…
Where do you draw the line in honesty with your little kids?